CBS Fires Four Staffers Over Bush Story

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacNut, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #1
    CBS Fires Four Staffers Over Bush Story
    'Myopic Zeal' Cited by Independent Panel
    By DAVID BAUDER, AP

    Dan Rather, who anchored the report, is leaving the "CBS Evening News," but has said it's unrelated to the Bush/Guard story.

    NEW YORK (Jan. 10) - Four CBS News staffers were fired Monday following the release of an independent investigation that said a ''myopic zeal'' led to a ''60 Minutes Wednesday'' story about President Bush's military service that relied on allegedly forged documents.

    The network fired Mary Mapes, producer of the report; Josh Howard, executive producer of ''60 Minutes Wednesday'' and his top deputy Mary Murphy; and senior vice president Betsy West.

    Dan Rather, who narrated the report, announced in November that he was stepping down as anchorman of the ''CBS Evening News,'' but insisted the timing had nothing to do with the investigation.

    Rather ''asked the right questions initially, but then made the same errors of credulity and over-enthusiasm that beset many of his colleagues in regard to this segment,'' top CBS executive Leslie Moonves said.

    Given Rather's apology and announcement that he was stepping down, Moonves said further action against Rather was not warranted.

    CBS News President Andrew Heyward kept his job. The panel said Heyward had explicitly urged caution before the report aired.

    The report cited documents purported to be from one of Bush's commanders in the Texas Air National Guard. The documents say the commander, the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, ordered Bush to take a medical exam. Killian also reportedly felt pressured to sugarcoat an evaluation of then 1st Lt. Bush.

    Questions were quickly raised about the memo, with some document experts saying it appeared were written on a computer not invented at the time they were supposedly written.

    The independent investigators - former Republican Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and Louis Boccardi, retired president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press - said they could find no evidence to conclude the report aired two months before the election was fueled by a political agenda.

    The network's drive to be the first to break a story about Bush's National Guard service was a key reason it produced a story that was neither fair nor accurate and did not meet CBS News' internal standards, the investigators said.

    Although the panel said it couldn't prove conclusively the documents were forged, it said CBS News failed to authenticate them and falsely claimed an expert had done so when all he had done was authenticate one signature.

    After questions were raised, CBS launched into a ''strident defense'' of its report without adequately probing whether the criticism was merited, compounding the damage, the panel said.
    Panel Recommendations
    An independent panel studying CBS News' reporting on President Bush's National Guard record recommended a number of changes, including:

    · Standards: Appoint a senior Standards and Practices executive, reporting directly to the president of CBS News, who would review all investigative reporting, use of confidential sources and documents.
    · Competition: Foster an atmosphere in which competitive pressure is not allowed to prompt airing of reports before all investigation and vetting is done.
    · Confidential Sources: Allow senior management to know the names of confidential sources as well as all relevant background about the person needed to make news judgments.
    · Challenging a Report: Appoint a separate team, led by someone not involved in the original reporting, to look into any news report that is challenged.

    Source: CBSnews.com

    Howard was only months into his job as the executive responsible for ''60 Minutes Wednesday,'' and gave too much deference to Mapes and Rather, the panel said in its 224-page report.

    Two days after the report, Heyward ordered West to review the opinons of document examiners and confidential sources who had supported the story - but no such investigation was done.

    ''Had this directive been followed promptly, the panel does not believe that '60 Minutes Wednesday' would have publicly defended the segment for another 10 days,'' the panelists said.
     
  2. aricher macrumors 68020

    aricher

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    #2
    Even though I'm far from being a Bush supporter I have to agree with the termination of employment for these "news" folks. There needs to be a level of accountability for the media that just isn't there right now. I guess the same could be said about politics as well.
     
  3. Daveway macrumors 68040

    Daveway

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    #3
    We all know why Dan Rather is leaving. Hes been pissed with republicans ever since he was ejected from the services.
     
  4. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    #4
    The worst part about this story is that there is now a perception that Bush actually did guard duty. In fact, we are at the same place that we always were, which is that there is absolutely no record of him serving and nobody who can say that he was there.

    It's like OJ and the bloody glove. Yes, it was planted. But the fact that someone made up evidence doesn't mean it didn't happen.
     
  5. FelixDerKater macrumors 68000

    FelixDerKater

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  6. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #6
    I don't get it. There are all sorts of things Bush has done that could be construed as negative. Why make stuff up? It's probably true, the lack of evidence doesn't mean it didn't happen, but who cares? I suppose what he, or John Kerry, did around that time is important as far as their record goes, but I would rather have seen them focus on the real issues.

    As long as the media focuses on stuff like this (which Fox does as well, quite often actually), we'll never get down to what's really important. And that's why we'll always have to choose between the lesser of 2 evils. People like Bush and Kerry, 2 sides of the same corrupt coin.
     
  7. Inspector Lee macrumors 6502a

    Inspector Lee

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    #7
    That's precisely why they should take whatever they are paying Rove and double it.
     
  8. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    #8
    hmm... quite true. The man is an absolute master what he does, like it or not.

    yeah, you're right, making up documents doesn't really make sense as a way to attack bush. But neither did planting the glove on OJ. Sometimes, even with overwhelming real evidence, people get greedy and try to get just one more perfect nail to seal the coffin. And they end up blowing not only their fake evidence, but the real stuff as well.

    [crazy liberal conspiracy theory] Wouldn't it have been brilliant if it was actually someone like Rove who created these documents? Just as the heat was really getting turned up on Bush about the guard duty, these show up. Then, they're proven to be false, and *poof* no one will touch the issue anymore. I'm not saying that's the way it happened... but boy, it would've been smart, huh? [/crazy liberal conspiracy theory]
     
  9. Lyle macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #9
    If you were following the MacRumors political forum at the time this story broke last fall, you would know other crazy liberals have long ago suggested this conspiracy theory. ;)
     
  10. allpar macrumors 6502

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    #10
    There's plenty of evidence of past actions like that ... you don't need to be a liberal to believe that the Republicans have been very, very clever in their marketing.

    More important perhaps than this story is how a man who wrote a memo saying the US is exempt from the Geneva Convention was nominated for, and will become, Attorney General, even though the President said that he would find out who was responsible for the atrocities, going to the "very top." (Well, he can get to the top very quickly - I hear there are mirrors in the White House.) So he DID find out who was responsible, and rewarded him!

    Firing the four staffers seems like retribution for going after Bush. I don't think the two person panel was impartial - a Republican attorney general would be pretty partisan. I don't know the other guy but I don't think the makeup of that panel was designed for an impartial verdict.

    It is INDEED like the bloody glove not fitting (due to shrinkage from getting wet, by the way) - just because one memo was falsified doesn't mean the rest of the story isn't true.

    Meanwhile NOBODY was fired for lending credence and airtime to the people who claimed that Kerry faked his medals... who have been thoroughly debunked by eyewitnesses (including some who did NOT vote for Kerry).
     
  11. stubeeef macrumors 68030

    stubeeef

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    #11
    while both candidates have storied pasts and were trying to cover them up (kerry never signed the papers to release his records, W had little to nothing saying he was drilling) the cbs issue is not so much the mistake, or the bias, it is the continued defense of garbage. That IMHO is the cardinal sin of reputable news.
     
  12. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    #12
    I think that Dan Rather should also be leaving along with the other four. It isn't right that he gets to leave at a time of his own choosing. A return to real journalism would be a most welcomed event. Such as doing in depth research prior to airing a story.
     
  13. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #13
    So... heads have rolled at CBS for making false accusations based on fraudulent documents. When will heads roll at the White House for the same offense? Or is falling on your sword only for liberals these days?
     
  14. snkTab macrumors 6502a

    snkTab

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    #14
    that was awesome
     
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #15
    People got axed, but I didn't see anyone fall on their sword at CBS.


    Lethal
     
  16. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #16
    I have to agree, provided Fox News has to also hold up to the same standards. I'm not excusing any of them, rather criticizing all (CNN, I'm looking at you too). Such a shame that a fairly good career has to end this way (and it is ending), but he did bring it on himself. People are so focused on being partisan (on both sides, both agendas), the real victim is truth. And therefore, the American viewer.

    To quote our good friend SiliconAddict:
    -Never suspect conspiracy if incompetence could achieve the same result.

    Although I have to point out, a lot of those crazy liberals weren't Americans. Kinda negates your argument a bit. ;)

    Not the way it works, unfortunately. Their incompetence could not be brought down, thanks in part to the incompetence of the opposition. I doubt history will be kind, even if the ends do justify the means, but that's hardly a comfort now. I just hope our apathy, arrogance, and ignorance don't bring us that much lower.

    Our salvation should begin with a higher standard of journalistic integrity.
     
  17. stubeeef macrumors 68030

    stubeeef

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    #17


    ssshhhhhhh! :rolleyes:

    It is the quandry....you see liberals constantly talk about how stupid conservative are, right up to the point they need conservatives to take the fall for someone elses incompetence (hilliary and the conservative conspiracy) via an evil genius conspiracy. Actually, I must say this argument could go both ways, each side is so paranoid of the other.
     
  18. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    #18
    How this has remained out of the Poli Forum is beyond me...

    Anyhoo, I support this course of action by CBS, irresponsible/sloppy journalism should be punished, the extent of which should fit the circumstance. Their hands are somewhat tied anyway, they have a reputation to salvage, which pretty much necessitates the firing of those culpable in the "incident".

    Personally, I am apt to cut Rather some slack, as he has had a long and respectable career, and ultimately as merely the anchor, the responsibility falls on the producers and other off-camera staff to make sure the News is valid. The fact that Rather's stature may influence the decision-making process does not remove this basic fact of accountability.

    I am glad to hear the murmurs over at CNN about revamping the nature of their News in wake of the Stewart/Crossfire "event". It would be nice to have proper news for once. I hope more News channels decide to move away from the FOX News model back towards the old(er) Cronkite model, I'll guess we'll see...
     
  19. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #19
    Dan Rather resigned his postion over this. He could have stayed, but he saw the writing on the wall.

    And I haven't even seen an axe at the WH.

    Edit: CBS was also willing to allow a full investigation by outside people and also to act on the commissions recommendations fully. Another area the WH could learn from.
     
  20. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #20
    Not that that I've read up a lot on his retirement, but I think people place too much weight on "memogate" and Rather's decission to retire. Rather's been doing this a long time, his peers were retiring... This might have been the final straw, but saying "Rather retired because of this" is, IMO, misleading and gives the incident too much weight.

    Again, I do expect more from journalists than politicians.


    Lethal
     
  21. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #21
    Rather would have liked to make it to 25 years. Don't tell me he wouldn't have like to hit that nice round number.

    Why on earth would you expect more from those who report the events than those who cause them? I expect honesty from everyone. I'm often dissappointed, but I don't have higher hopes for journalists than I do for any other segment of society. I'm curious as to why you do.
     
  22. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #22
    I'll have to take your word on it. I don't know Dan Rather. No one could have predicted Jim Brown, Barry Sanders or Ricky Williams up and leaving football like they did. Records/milestones be damned, some people just decide that enough is enough, or that other aspects of their life should get more attention.

    I think we got our wires crossed, I wasn't using "expect" as a synonym<sp?> for "want." I want honesty from everyone, but I don't expect to get it from everyone. Ideally everyone would be honest, but that's not a very realistic mindest (especially when it comes to politics).

    I hold journalists to a higher standard because, basically, that's their job (to report the facts, uncolored by bias). I place politicians (w/a few exceptions) on about the same level as PR and marketing/advertising people. It's their job to sell a production (be it Coke or a candidate or a local/state/national policy).


    Lethal
     
  23. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #23
    If there had been the kind of lead-up the way NBC did with Brokaw leaving and Williams taking over I might buy the 'long time coming' argument. But there was nothing like that which makes me suspicious that Rather wasn't planning on stepping down when he did. If he'd had a choice, do you think he would have prefered leaving on a high note, or in disgrace? And this isn't like sports where high notes may be beyond your grasp, Rather had the support staff to get him a good honest story to retire on.

    You are giving journalists far too much credit. Are they not also selling something?

    And I thought we'd already established that nobody is free of bias? (See Liberal Media threads) :p
     
  24. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #24
    You mentioning a "lack of build up" is a good point. Kinda like I mentioned in an earlier post, I think Rather was planning on retirement, this just sealed the deal and sped up the timing.

    Honestly I don't like the way Rather went. I would have prefered either A. He stayed on (maybe I'm an idiot but I don't fault Rather nearly as much as I do the off-camera people involved) or B. he retired saying it was specifically because of this story. Ya know, some sort of captin goes down with the ship/he feels personally responible for the actions of those working under him, Hollywood-esque, makes-a-grown-man-cry, farwell speech.

    I don't like the speculation surrounding the reasons and timing of his retirement and I fear this will unfairly mar the memory of his time behind the anchor desk.

    I think my lasting memory of Rather will be when he was on Letterman the Monday after 9/11. When he apologized for getting choked up on camera because he was a journalist and this wasn't the way a journalist should be acting and Dave (as well as I think everyone watching) was like, dude cut yourself some slack, yer only human.

    That was something I ment to add but forgot to, is that news itself is turning into a product. All too often "being first" has replaced "being correct."

    :p
    Again, something else I ment to add but forgot (geez, I'm not that old yet...). I ment to edit it say "as realisticly free of bias that a person can be."


    Lethal
     
  25. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #25
    Just as being reelected has replaced being interested in the good of the citizenry with polititians. I see no difference really.

    I expect polititians to be as realistically free of lies that a person can be. I think we're in big trouble when we hold our journalists to higher ethical standards than we do polititians. And yes, I do realize that many pols were lawyers first... :eek:
     

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